Finding My Ultra 1.3
Finding my ultra 1.3 Paumonok Pursuit 70k
This past weekend the Paumonok Pursuit 70K was another excellent opportunity to learn what is going to take to go long, to find my ultra.
I was part of a 5 member team and ran the first leg, 10.75 miles. This distance certainly is not long by any stretch of the mind but presented an opportunity to learn and to be schooled on the nuances of ultra distance running.
What I learned from my 10.75 miles in the trails:
1. Im learning from my mistakes and this time I ran in trail running shoes along with just one pair of socks. The trail shoes allowed for great traction on the undulating terrain that was blanketed with a fresh 3-4 inches of snow. The effort, form and pace of those that wore running sneakers were truly handicapped.
2. Keep a "clean" distance between you and the runner ahead of you. At the start of the race everyone was very keen on not giving the runner in front of them any breathing room. As a result the spray from every stride of the lead runner would coat an area between the toes and mid shin of the trailing runner. I was a victim of not following at a clean distance and as a result my sneakers and socks quickly became wet.
3. The hydration pack I ordered after my previous jaunt in the woods finally arrived and I couldn't have been happier. A hydration pack is definitely the way to go on long runs.
4. After about 4 miles of leap frogging groups of runners I finally decided enough was enough and I was going to dictate the pace. By mile 5 I asked a volunteer, "How far ahead is the lead guy?" "About 30 seconds and you are in second". I instantly went into hunting mode. I was able to put the lead runner in my cross hairs within a half mile. I then decided that I would sit on him, wear him down and then make my move. He ended up conceding the lead pretty quickly. After taking the lead I then passed the leading bike. I was now in very unfamiliar and a strange new territory, I was in the lead and had to navigate the course by myself. In every previous race it was just a matter of putting my head down and blindly follow the person in front of me, this new situation brought about a lot of questions, concerns and observations:
1. Do I really want to be in the lead?
2. What if I blow my lead by going off course?
3. What if everyone follows me off course?
4. Do I crank up the pace or just slowly stretch the elastic?
5. How far is he behind me?
6. It is a strange feeling being hunted.
7. Being in the lead sucks because the snow isn't packed down. Now snow is engulfing my shoes and my socks are soaking.
8. "First runner is coming"
9. It's kind of fun being chased?
10. Why am I in the lead?
11. Am I on the right trail?
12. This may never happen again so might as well have fun.
13. Keeping driving the pace and break the spirit of those chasing you.
5. The pace I ran was perfect for racing 10.75 miles. I would have blown up if I tried to maintain that pace for 50K
6. Those that completed the 70K solo were all older, I'd guess at least in their late 40's.
7. This was a unique and energizing experience. From the organization of our two teams, to running, to providing SAG and cheerleading, this day was perfect. It was an absolute pleasure to have shared this experience with friends.